Archbishop Ryan’s teacher honored by American music legend – Catholic Philly
A high school music teacher in the archdiocese has been recognized by a legendary American singer-songwriter for his excellence in teaching music.
Theodore Blohm, director of performing arts at Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia, recently received a Manilow Music Teacher Award from the Manilow Music Project.
Named after composer and performer Barry Manilow – whose decades-long career spans pop, Broadway and jazz, as well as film and TV soundtracks – the prize consists of $5,000 cash and $5,000 additional Manilow Bucks for in-class instrument purchases.
Manilow, who credits his Brooklyn high school orchestra class with changing his life, is a strong advocate for music education — and Blohm is a kindred spirit.
“Music is part of the school day,” Blohm said. “It helps bring students together in the community and helps with their socialization.”
A graduate of the University of the Arts, Blohm said he grew up listening to both Frank Sinatra and the “90s pop and ska punk” of bands such as Blink 182, Real Big Fish and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
He started playing the trombone – “my grandfather held my uncle’s trombone, hoping someone would pick it up eventually” – and remains an active professional musician, performing with the wedding band Goody Blue Shoes, the Blowphat marching band and the Sinatra tribute band Summer Club.
Blohm also gives due consideration to his students’ favorite genres.
“I am committed to my students; I try to identify with them as much as possible,” he said. “I try to listen to their music and I always will.”
Above all, he is grateful for the freedom that music offers his students.
“You can express yourself in a totally different way by playing an instrument,” Blohm said. “If you’re shy in nature and play really hard, you’re excited. You can see the personalities (of the students) in the performances.
The impact of music education extends far into the future, even after the last note has faded, he added.
“It’s always nice to have students come back and say how important music has been to their academic journey,” Blohm said.